Hollow ribbing is not really a ribbing. It’s a double knitted fabric that resembles ribbing, behaves somewhat like ribbing and is often used instead of ribbing.
Hollow ribbing makes beautiful cuffs, hat brims, neck bands, button bands and belts. But its main benefit is that it is the best way to make a casing to hold elastic. That’s especially handy when we knit skirts, toddler pants or other projects that need to be reinforced with an elastic band.
All of that is easily achieved by doing a simple two-row repeat. Let’s see how it works.
As usual, there is a video tutorial that shows all the steps explained below. Click here to watch it.
Depending on the way we plan to use hollow ribbing in a project, we can make it right after we cast on stitches (e.g. cuffs, bottom edge of a sweater or a brim of a hat), inside a project (e.g. elastic casing in a dress) or at the top of the knitted piece right before we bind off stitches (e.g. elastic casing in a skirt or pants, button band ).
TO MAKE HOLLOW RIBBING AT THE CAST ON EDGE
Take needles that are one or two sizes smaller than the size you plan to use for the project, and cast on twice the number of stitches recommended in the pattern less one stitch.
You can use any type of cast on you like, but hollow ribbing looks best when we use the Italian cast on. This cast on creates a stretchy edge, so avoid it if you don’t need an additional stretch.
To make a swatch that is 6 stitches wide, I cast on 11 stitches (6 x 2 – 1 = 11) using good old long tail cast on.
If you don’t mind having the section worked in hollow rib narrower than the main part of the project (for example, if you make cuffs), don’t double the number of stitches when you cast on.
It’s always best to make a swatch before you decide to make this rib without increasing the number of stitches. You might even work this part using the same size of the needles as you would use for the main part of the project.
Row 1: knit 1 stitch and slip the next stitch with the yarn in front of the work. Repeat this sequence to the last stitch. Knit the last stitch. Turn your work. Here’s how it looks in the video tutorial.
Row 2: slip 1 stitch with the yarn in front of the work, knit the next stitch. Repeat this sequence to the last stitch. Purl the last stitch. Turn your work. Watch how to work this row.
Repeat rows 1 and 2 until the band is as long as you like. To make the band you see in the photo below, I worked 8 rows.
Now it’s time to decrease the number of stitches and transition to the main stitch pattern.
In the next right side row: knit one stitch, then knit two stitches together to the end of the row. Watch how to do it in this part of the video tutorial.
Now we have the number of stitches recommended in the pattern and are ready to work in the pattern. Starting with the next row, use the bigger needles, and follow the pattern to make your project.
If you chose to work hollow ribbing without increasing the number of stitches, you wouldn’t need to work the finishing row. Simply take the bigger needles and start working on the project.
TO MAKE HOLLOW RIBBING INSIDE THE PROJECT
With smaller needles knit one stitch, then make one stitch from the strand between stitches (M1 increase). Repeat this sequence until you get to the last stitch. Knit the last stitch. You will end up with twice the number of stitches required for the project less one stitch. Here’s how it looks in the video.
As you see in the photo below, I turned 6 stitches into 11 stitches after I worked the setup row:
PATTERN ROWS AND FINISHING ROW
Work the pattern rows the same way we did when we were making hollow ribbing at the cast on edge, but start working with Row 2, and then work Row 1. Repeat these rows until you are happy with the length of the band.
In the next right side row, decrease stitches, change the size of the needles and continue to work in the pattern.
TO MAKE HOLLOW RIBBING AT THE BIND OFF EDGE
Hollow ribbing at the bind off edge is made the same way as the ribbing inside the project. The only difference is the bind off edge itself. We can bind off stitches as we work the finishing row, or in the row after that.
To make the swatch shown in the photo below, I bound off stitches in the finishing row.
THE BIG QUESTION
So, why is this stitch called “hollow rib“? Well, because it is hollow 🙂
If you take the needle out of the stitches, you will see that the fabric is actually made of two layers of stockinette stitch, a lot like a pocket.
Perfect for keeping small treasures, secret messages … or a piece of elastic band 🙂
If you enjoyed this tutorial,
here’s something else you might find helpful:
“Neat Side Edges” Book
Learn twelve ways to make side edges of a knitted project nice and tidy. Plus, ways to fix side edges, and a way to improve edges of finished projects.